Get Even More Visitors To Your Blog, Upgrade To A Business Listing >>

Episode 15: Cloak & Dagger

For several days Ken and Dang-Lu had continued their journey to the town that Ken had chosen to visit at random. Following their hair raising encounter with the man who was possibly murdered by a former Ranger the pair agreed to keep a low profile in their travels. Given that the man was targeted for some reason they did not want to also be next on the assassin's hit-list. Nights were spent with at least one of them up keeping watch while the days were spent traversing along the road but at a minimum distance of fifty meters.
The journey was traitorous but they nonetheless reached their destination; the city of Verona. It was a fairly lively community, and was one of only four such communities in Norland. Busy streets, thriving businesses, Ken and Dang-Lu felt like they had arrived back in a rebuilt Windshire. Wasting no time however, they headed for one of the Inns.
Once there, Ken activated his Arch Stone on a table-top in his room. He and Dang-Lu watched as the stone lit up and created the spectacular blue projection of Ken's elvan herald; Kima Shinno. Being the first time Ken was aware of who his herald was, he was taken by surprise at the sight of the young female elf.
"Hello there, Ken." Kima's astral projection greet, "My name is Kima Shinno, herald to Supreme Master Cruz and your liaison to the guild."
Kima's tone was very light hearted and more cheery in comparison to her sister Anthea's. Ken was especially taken off guard by this considering her calm and reserved mannerism when she sang the song at his graduation from the Academy.
"... Hello, Kima." Ken said after a brief pause.
"How can I be of service for you and Mr. Dang-Lu?" She asked.
"Well we are here in Verona and we had an encounter on the way here that suggests foul play is at foot in Norland."
"Oh? What sort of encounter?" Kima asked very curiously. "Did you see a new kind of monster? a demon?"
"We think it may have been a Rogue Ranger." Dang-Lu answered.
"A Rogue Ranger, you say?" Kima asked in astonishment. "That really is serious then. Did you get a good look at him?"
"No, we just know that he used a Kunai and wrist blades to murder a man who was trying to forcefully get us to take him to the guild." Dang-Lu explained. "He said he had something important to inform the guild of. We never found out what that was before the assassin killed him."
"The only thing we know about this Rogue was that he was very nimble and agile." Ken said. "He had to have been an experienced and well trained Ranger in order to bound through the trees as easily as he did."
"I see, well then if you will just give me a moment I will be right back with you." Kima said just before her astral form downsized into a small glowing orb.
"She's... quite unorthodox for a herald." Dang-Lu observed.
"I agree." Ken replied.
"You showed some sign of recognition when you saw her." Dang-Lu said.
Ken, careful not to divulge anything about his past, said, "She sang the Ranger's Parting at my graduation."
"Fascinating. It'd be interesting to see what kind of vocal talent she may possess."
"She was rather good." Ken replied.
Suddenly the orb began to change colors.
"This is peculiar." Dang-Lu said while the changing colors turned into flashes.
To both he and Ken's surprise the orb grew in size and dissipated back into Kima's form. This time however it was her physical form.
"What in the name of Aphrodite are you doing here!" Dang-Lu said in a panic. "Heralds are not permitted to leave the Guild. You're too valuable to venture into possible danger!"
"It's a room at an Inn, Scholar." Kima carelessly said. "I don't believe beds, chairs, & tables pose any threat to my safety. Besides I feel too enclosed at the Guild. I feel more like another trophy than an importance just staying there the whole time."
"She's fine Dang-Lu, she's safe here like she said & we have more pressing matters at hand." Ken said calming the situation. "I trust you have news for us?"
"Yes as a matter of fact I do." Kima said as she looked curiously around the room and out the window. "It seems as though there have been more than a few interesting similarities to your Rogue and an assailant that appeared a couple nights ago here in Verona."
"An assailant?" Ken asked.
"An assailant." Kima said. "Not much description has been given other than it's some figure cloaked in black that's been attacking people in the southern district. The victims have been left petrified and witnesses say the attacker can make extraordinary leaps."
"That does sound similar." Dang-Lu said.
Ken pondered for a brief moment and then declared, "It's similar enough that we'll take a look into it."
"Is there anything else I can do for you gentlemen?" Kima asked.
"No that will be all Kima," Ken answered politely. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. Wishing you all the best of luck in your hunt." Kima said with a chipper tone before disappearing in another brilliant display of light.
"I'll go see the constables to see if there is any more information I can dig up." Ken said to Dang-Lu. "You rest for a little while here."
"You don't need to rest?" Dang-Lu asked.
"No. There's no time for rest." Ken responded as he stood up to retrieve the Arch Stone and headed for the door. "I'll return in a few hours."
Ken's refusal to rest despite the poor rest hours was a little worrying to Dang-Lu. Nevertheless he respected his companion's wishes and retired to his room to get some sleep.
An hour later Ken arrived at the courthouse to speak with the constables on the matter of this assailant. He approached one of the younger constables, a younger man with somewhat pale skin and course brown hair.
"Yes it's been quite a growing cause for concern in the southern district." The young Constable explained.
"My companion and I encountered a similar figure on our way here and we're looking into the possibility that the two may be one in the same." Ken replied.
"Well we don't have much evidence to go on other than the fact he's appeared at night, left several female victims in a catatonic state, injured a couple male victims and then just like that he vanishes." The Constable explained further. "The only description we have of him is one that a male victim gave us. It was a figure cloaked in black. After it slashed at him, the figure leaped onto the roof of the building and disappeared."
"You said it slashed at him?" Ken asked sensing another similarity.
"It happened so fast, he was unsure if it was a claw or bladed weapon but it was sharp enough to leave two deep cuts across his leg." The constable answered.
Ken was feeling more and more like he had tracked down the assassin they saw. But he still felt as though that the one they encountered would not have left any victims alive.
The constable then added, "that victim also claimed the assailant's face was rather demonic in appearance from what he saw."
"Demonic?" Ken asked feeling a familiar shiver crawl up his spine. "Demonic, how?"
"Well from he saw, the assailant had an elongated chin and pointed ears." The constable answered. "The victim said that the eyes seemed to flare up in the dark."
Ken suddenly felt like he had no longer been hearing similarities between the assassin that he and Dang-Lu saw, but the warlock Hades.
"This... figure..." Ken asked, "Did it speak to any of the victims?... did it call itself by a name?"
The constable thought for a moment before answering, "No... none of the ones still able to talk mentioned anything about the figure speaking. As far as name goes, the locals have come to call it Spring Heeled Jack."
"I see." Ken said. "Well thank you constable."
"Before you go young master Ranger," The constable said before Ken could exit. "After hearing that Spring Heeled Jack had some demonic qualities we decided to put a request through the Ranger Guild for a hunt order. If you hurry I'm sure you'll be able to take the order."
"Thank you again Constable," Ken said gratefully, "Consider this hunt, taken."
Ken bid the young Constable farewell and made haste to the Ranger Station to retrieve the hunt order for Spring Heeled Jack. Once he had the order, he then hurried back to the Inn to regroup with Dang-Lu. All the while he was formulating a plan to handle the situation.
With the coming of night the city of Verona took on a romantic yet spooky quality to it. It's impressive architecture took on a somewhat Gothic appearance yet the street-lamps gave its streets a warm & humble vibe. Many inhabitants of the Northern District were still out after dark while the people in the south opted to stay mostly indoors.
Along with the Constable from earlier and a partner, Ken and Dang-Lu had organized themselves into a small perimeter to try and capture Spring Heeled Jack. Ken did not tell Dang-Lu about the possibility that the identity of Spring Heeled Jack was really Hades as to not stress the scholar out; wouldn't be worth raising an alarm should it turn out to be someone else. Ken waited not far from the Verona Graveyard, Dang-Lu stood in the steeple of a building approximately five blocks away. The two constables patrolled the streets within two blocks of Ken and Dang-Lu's position.
For several hours the four of them watched and waited. Every passing hour was a nerve shredding one; even for Dang-Lu who stood well outside the realm of any possible action that may have occurred. The streets went from having maybe one or two citizens walking them to all but devoid of any signs of life. The southern district became a veritable ghost town.
The warm and humble glow of the street lamps progressively made the shadows of the different turns and alley ways look more menacing. Overhead a few clouds were scattered across the sky and the moon was just beginning to make its way across the star-spangled heavens. A few species of urban insects chirped and whistled throughout the city. Off in the distance, a dire wolf could be heard howling. Dang-Lu watched from his vantage point as a swarm of bats flew across the night shrouded skyline. Ken, watching the same bats, suddenly got an idea.
From one of the pouches on his waste Ken removed a small ocarina. The small instrument was a mixture of wood and marble, with a feather carved into its back. Placing the mouthpiece to his lips, he played a simple seven-note tune. A few seconds later, a there was a wisp of wind and then a an orb appeared. The orb suddenly grow and to a form; the form of an owl. The lightly colored form then dissipated leaving the physical form of white an black owl with blue eyes and feathers that resembled horns. The owl perched itself on Ken's forearm which he had extended invitingly outward.
"Hello Ukoro." Ken greeted.
The nocturnal bird's beak did not move but a soft female voice replied telepathically, "Hello, Ken. How may I help you?"
"We are on the look out for a suspicious character somewhere in the city, would be able to keep a watch for any activity that could assist us?" Ken asked.
Ukoro replied, "I'd be happy to circle the area a few times to see if I can find anything for you."
"Thank you Ukoro, that would be much appreciated." Ken said.
"It is my pleasure." The owl replied before taking flight.
From his position, Dang-Lu spotted Ukoro as she took off into the night sky and remarked, "An excellent idea Ken."
The bird of prey soared high over the city. With as abandoned as the southern district's streets were, it would be very easy to locate anything suspicious. She banked several times before suddenly she became focused on something not far from Ken's position.
Seeing her making a return, Ken extended his arm for her to land.
After a few flaps of her wings, Ukoro perched herself on Ken's forearm and immediately informed him, "There is a hooded figure walking towards the cemetery two streets away from the North East."
"Thank you Ukoro," Ken said. "Your services are no longer required."
"Farewell, Ken." Ukoro said as she flapped her wings and then disappeared in a ghostly manner.
Wasting no time Ken hurried in the direction that his companion provided.
After passing the first street he slowed down and came to a stop against the corner from the street that Ukoro had spotted the figure. Slowly he leaned forward to get a look at who it might be. There stood a person in either a dress or robes, but with multiple layers so a precise identification was hard to establish. What's more, the person's back was turned. Given it appeared as though the person was keeping an eye out as if trying to remain undetected it was enough for Ken to step out from behind the wall.
He drew his sword and demanded, "Halt. Do not make any sudden moves."
The person froze as Ken demanded.
"Slowly turn and keep your hands where I can see them." Ken said while keeping a firm grip on his sword.
Cautiously the person turned towards Ken. However, there was a cloth which covered the head enough to obscure the face in shadow.
"Show your face and identify yourself."
The person paused for a moment before drawing back the cloth. It was revealed to be a beautiful young woman with curly brown hair.
"My name is Tara Sing." The young lady said.
"I apologize if I scared you mam." Ken politely said after quickly lowering his sword. "Fear not, I'm a Ranger."
"It's quite alright." Tara said. "I confess I thought you were this Spring Heeled Jack that everyone has been talking about."
Ken chuckled slightly and replied, "The same could be said for me as well. I'm on the hunt for this menace as a matter of fact."
"Well it's certainly a relief that the guild decided to handle the situation."
"May I ask though, what are you doing out so late?" Ken asked.
"It's a personal matter but I understand it looks suspicious." Tara said. "My brother is a drinker and I had to return him home from the pub. His wife was one of Jack's victims."
"My apologies for intruding on your business then." Ken said politely once more. "Do you live nearby?"
"Yes, just another block down and around the corner there."
"Alright well I'll let you be on your way then." Ken said as he sheathed his sword.
"Thank you, sir." Tara said as she pulled the cloth back over her head to conceal her face once more.
Ken returned to his post as the young lady continued on her journey home.
Just before reaching the cemetery, Ken suddenly heard a scream; Tara's scream. With the utmost haste he hurried back to her location. When he turned the corner, he saw the young lady being pinned to the ground by a gentleman with a black cloak.
Quickly Ken drew his weapon and charged at the attacker. Hearing the Ranger's approach the man turned towards him and leaped off Tara. The attacker's jump was so high that he was able to perch himself on top of a ten-foot stone wall nearby. There was no question that Ken had found Spring Heeled Jack.
"Are you alright?" Ken asked Tara as he put himself between her and Jack.
"Yes I'm fine, Thank you." She replied.
Though still mostly in the shadows, Ken could see some key features of Jack's face; a pointed nose, jet-black hair, pointed ears, and a mouth filled with sharp teeth. Jack clearly wasn't all the way human but he wasn't a warlock either.
"Why don't you come down from there and introduce yourself?" Ken mocked. "Or are you happy with the name Spring Heeled Jack?"
Jack pondered Ken's words silently. Instead he looked up towards the roof of the building next to him and made another astonishing leap onto its roof. Ken gave chase as Spring Heeled Jack began leaping from rooftop to rooftop. While in pursuit, Ken removed a small whistle from his pocket and blew into it as he ran. Dang-Lu and the two constables immediately heard the whistles and started moving with haste to rendezvous with Ken.
Despite Jack getting the jump on Ken, the young Ranger was doing well at keeping up with the leaping menace. The chase lead them briefly to the east and then back towards the cemetery. Upon reaching the pointed iron fence of the graveyard Jack, came down from building-tops allowing Ken enough leeway to catch up to him. Like a human cricket, Jack then jumped clear over the fence and into the graveyard.
Ken's pursuit came to a frustrating halt as the fence was too high to climb and the nearest gate was further down the street.

"Damn you!" Ken scolded.
Much to Ken's added humiliation, Jack stood on the other side of the fence taking time to mock his chaser. The mysterious assailant stood with his arms crossed, his cloak draped over him, and displaying a fiendish grin. His eyes suddenly seemed to glow in a fiery colorization.
"The orphan." Jack said with a very ominous voice.
"What did you just say!?" Ken asked with a furious voice.
"I think you ought to know," Jack continued, "That your sister is doing well."
Ken's shock and temper left him stunned beyond words.
Jack turned before leaving behind one last statement, "slavery, such a burden-free way to live."
The phantom then disappeared through the graveyard just as the constables had arrived on the scene.
"Where did he go?" the pale faced constable asked.
"He escaped." Ken simply said. "There was another victim though back this way."
Ken lead the two constables back to where the young lady, Tara had been attacked. Upon their arrival though, the robes which Tara was concealing her appearance with were all that they found. The confusion mounted as nobody had the slightest clue what to do next.
Dang-Lu suddenly appeared on the scene asking, "Is he here? Did you catch him?"
Ken looked around the area and let the circumstances answer his questions.



This post first appeared on Realm Of Monsters, please read the originial post: here

Share the post

Episode 15: Cloak & Dagger

×

Subscribe to Realm Of Monsters

Get updates delivered right to your inbox!

Thank you for your subscription

×